CSGS Seminar – Blockchain Technology and its implications

Date: Friday, 4th August

Time: 16:30

Location: Room 321 @ McConnell

Speaker: Carlos G. Oliver
Title: An introduction to blockchain technology and implications for science

Abstract: The development of blockchain frameworks as de-centralized databases has been one of the most important technological advances of the past decade. While most people are aware of this technology through the success of the Bitcoin currency, it is the invention of blockchain that supports Bitcoin that is likely to have a deep and long term impact on many aspects of life. In this talk I will present the basic theory and algorithms behind blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and next-generation blockchain. Finally, I will discuss some applications of this technology for the scientific community.

Minutes of Meeting

A CSGS executive meeting was held on May 13th 2017, attended by ⅘ executives: Mohammed (President), Rohit (VP Academics),  Pulkit (VP Academics) and Lianna (VP Finance).
Three motions passed:
Motion: there should be a YES/NO referendum asking grads to decide whether to sell the coffee machine.
PASSED (unanimous)
Motion: only the result of the referendum is relevant to the fate of the machine.
PASSED (Lianna = no).
Motion: the money collected from selling the machine will be allocated to buying 2 coffee machines (one for Trottier and one for McConnell). How much CSGS will spend on coffee supplies for these machine is to be decided in the future.
PASSED (Lianna=no).

CSGS Seminar – Models and algorithms to optimize submodular functions

Date: 30th March (Thursday)

Time: 12:30 pm 

Location: 3120 Trottier.

Speaker: Richard

Title: Models and algorithms to optimize submodular functions.

About Speaker: 

Richard is a second year PhD student in the School of Computer Science at McGill University. He holds a Master’s degree in Mathematics and Statistics from McGill and a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in Madrid, Spain. His main research interests are in Discrete Optimization, and in particular in the areas of Approximation Algorithms and Submodular Optimization.
Summary : 
Areas of Applied Math / Discrete Math / Theoretical Computer Science in optimization and especially models and algorithms for optimizing submodular functions, including their application to real world settings. Submodular functions appear naturally in many important optimization frameworks including graphs/networks, facility location problems, combinatorial auctions, analysis of social networks, feature selection, information gathering, sensor placement, document summarization and more. There has been a huge amount of work in the past years regarding the design of efficient algorithms to optimize (both maximize and minimize) these kind of functions subject to several kind of constraints. 

It’s your turn to give ideas for events!

We will receive this year’s budget in short time, so we are pondering over the events that can be organized this year. We really welcome CS grads’ input on avenues of spending this year’s budget. It’s your change to give us event ideas and other suggestions about spending the budget!


Please email us about your great and fantastic ideas at

csgs-execs AT cs.mcgill.ca


We are looking for seminar speakers!

Here is the opportunity for the great research minds to give talk about their research!

If you are interested in giving a talk about your research, please email us at

csgs-execs AT cs.mcgill.ca

I am glad to inform you that you will be awarded a free Hoodie – Computer Science McGill when you give a talk, so are you ready ?

Your chance to get involved!

Here is your opportunity to get involved in executive team.

We are looking for VP Social and Chair! 

CSGS VP Social


a) Plan and execute social events and activities
b) Ensure that social events follow all applicable rules and laws c) Ensure all events are advertised to the Membership

(if interested email: csgs-execs AT cs.mcgill.ca)

CSGS Chair

Responsibilities :
a) Be the designated correspondent of the Association to the Membership including: i) notification of all of the Association’s meetings/assemblies; and ii) distribution of meeting materials (e.g. agendas).
b) Act as Recording Secretary for Council Meetings and General Assemblies;
c) Maintain and organize up to date electronic (where appropriate) and paper (where appropriate) records of all of the Association’s documents including: i) financial records as provided by the VP Finance and Operations; i) Meeting records (agendas, minutes, etc…); ii) Documentation arising from the activities of the Executive; iii) Template and filled forms (e.g. Nomination Forms); iiii) The Association’s operations manual.

(if interested email: csgs-execs AT cs.mcgill.ca)

CSGS Minutes of Meeting – 24th Feb,2017

Below are some key points discussed in CSGS meeting held on 24th Feb,2017.

Motion: out of the next CSGS budget, a minimum of $1000 shall be allocated for seminars, and a minimum of $1000 for 2 major social events. Prospectively, the two social events are (1) BBQ or CSUS-joint event early summer, and (2) BBQ in September.

Votes: unanimously passed.


Motion: VP Communication shall solicit input from CS grads if they any ideas for events and/or other avenues that CSGS can allocate budget for.

Votes: unanimously endorsed


Motion: VP Communication and VP Finance commit to updating the online Financial Statement with the latest budget spending no later than March 1st 2017.

Votes: unanimously endorsed


Motion: CSGS Chair is relieved of his post effective February 24th 2017.

Votes: unanimously passed


Motion: CSGS shall call for candidates to fill the vacant VP Social post. The President is tasked with soliciting candidacy and arranging with PGSS to setup the voting system.

Votes: unanimously passed


Motion: VP Academics commit to organizing a minimum of 5 seminars from February 2017 to November 2017.

Votes: unanimously endorsed


Motion: Whereas interaction between CS ungrads and grads can foster positive social and academic interaction, and give CSUS’s reachout to organize joint events with CSGS, the CS undergrads are invited to CSGS-organized seminars, with the understanding that CSUS will cover (1) 50% of the catering cost and handle (2) handle room bookings.

Votes: unanimously passed

Seminar : In silico molecular evolution and Boltzmann sampling: implications in origin of life and molecular design

Thanks to all CSGS grads for great support at our first seminar of this fall.

Seminar by Carlos Oliver

Seminar by Carlos Oliver


Speaker: Carlos G. Oliver
Title: In silico molecular evolution and Boltzmann sampling: implications in origin of life and molecular design.

Abstract: RNA is a class of molecules present in all living organisms that counts on two important properties: information storage and catalytic activity. This duality makes RNA an interesting molecule to study as potentially the first molecule to support life, as well as a key component of many cellular processes. One of the most important factors in determining RNA function is the shape, or structure that the molecule adopts. This shape is determined by a specific set of interactions encoded in the RNA sequence that give rise to a 2D and 3D shape.  To this end, RNA structure prediction algorithms have made substantial progress, and serve as a notable example of computer science being applied to answer fundamental biological questions. While the algorithmics of mapping a sequence to a structure are well established, there still remain many questions about how the composition and exploration of sequence space affects this mapping. In this work, we use structure prediction algorithms, combined with Boltzmann sampling, and evolutionary algorithms to study the energy landscapes of RNA populations under various sequence-space constraints. We show that restricting sequence space has a strong influence on the stability of structure-sequence pairs, the emergence of structural complexity, and the evolutionary dynamics of populations. All of these insights can be used to further our understanding of how sequence-structure space affects the diversity of molecules we observe today, as well as provides useful tools for controlling molecular function.